For many years we holidayed in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, and it is still a favourite place; when we visit my heart seem to open and  the very air seems different. My eyes seem wider as if I can see more and I feel energetic and creative. Northern Ireland is  beautiful, and although more people are visiting, it is still in many ways, unspoiled as a tourist destination. if things were different I would move there to live.

The North Antrim coast is stunning, full of hidden gems; a few years ago we explored Dunseverick, and the remains of its castle. Dunseverick is tiny, a cluster of houses around a barely used little harbour; however, in ancient times it was the end of one the five great highways, or ‘slighte’ of ancient Ireland, the High Kings Road; the High Kings Road ran from Dunseverick to Royal Tara and continued to the River Liffey, the Black Pool, Dubh Linn, what we now call Dublin.

Another favourite and very moving place to visit is the Spade Mill at Temple Patrick; when the millions of Irish left Ireland over the centuries, for many of the men their only skill was in using a spade.

At Dunseverick, last time we were there we found a thermos flask:

The thermos flask

Have you ever wondered,
You who abandoned your flask on a rock
Near Dunseverick castle,
Have you ever thought about your flask?
Do you remember the times you used it, the picnics, the walks
Or taking it to work?
Have you still the cup?
Because when we found it, standing all alone,
A sentinel waiting to be recalled
It had no cup.


Would I love my family so much
That I would leave them
And go out into the world
With the only thing I had
My only skill
A spade
To dig?

357 different spades,
One for every different sort of work.
Would I take my spade and go
To where I was reviled
to do the lowest sort of work.
How to confuse an Irishman:
Give him three spades and tell him
To take his pick.
“No blacks, no dogs, no Irish.”
Would I do that?


©Lois Elsden 2016

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